Improving Access to Care for People with Inflammatory Arthritis

Avoiding Unnecessary ER Visits In Alberta

The Problem

In Alberta, people with Inflammatory Arthritis struggle to get appointments with their family doctors or rheumatologists promptly when new needs arise. This results in seeking care at emergency departments for non-urgent concerns.

The Solution

Understand the reasons why people with long-term inflammatory arthritis go to the emergency department when they don’t need urgent care, to inform new or improved models of rheumatology care.

What the Study will do

By analyzing existing healthcare data and interviewing patients, this study will determine how health systems, disease management decisions, and patient factors influence emergency department use by people with inflammatory arthritis. This information will help recommend improvements in patient care within the healthcare system in Alberta.

The Research Study

The research team has gathered information from Alberta administrative healthcare data on people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and gout to see how often they use Emergency Care and Urgent Care, and their reasons behind it.

Additionally, people across Alberta with inflammatory arthritis participated in an online survey to share their emergency department experiences. Questions centred around factors contributing to their decision to go to an emergency department, their experiences and follow-up care.

Based on this information, our team of scientists and patient partners are currently working to suggest changes in patient care and help people with IA see their family doctor or rheumatologist in a timely manner and avoid unnecessary emergency department visits.

Research Scientist

Cheryl Barnabe

Cheryl Barnabe

Senior Scientist, Rheumatology, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Dr. Cheryl Barnabe is a Métis rheumatologist and a Canada Research Chair in Rheumatoid Arthrtis and Autoimmune Diseases. She is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. She is a Vice-Chair in the Department of Medicine (Indigenous Health), and the Deputy Director for the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health.

Dr. Barnabe’s research program, ‘Arthritis Care for Indigenous Populations’, has contributed knowledge on the epidemiology of arthritis and contemporary outcomes of inflammatory arthritis conditions for Indigenous people. In response to the identified accentuated disease burden, she co-develops promising health services interventions to bridge the care gaps that exist, and leads delivery of curricular initiatives for rheumatology practitioners to support the provision of culturally safe arthritis care environments. Dr. Barnabe is also conducting research to reduce and resolve arthritis outcome inequities by improving guideline development and their implementation. She is collaborating with partners in primary care, rheumatology, and patients to improve access to ambulatory care services for arthritis concerns to reduce avoidable acute care use.

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